Up to PM to decide if tainted Netas can be made Minister: Suprime Court
NEW DELHI : In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition calling for removal of tainted Cabinet ministers, saying the Prime Minister should take a call on this.“Appointment of cabinet ministers with criminal past must be left to the wisdom of PM,” the apex court said, while cautioning that “PM and CMs should not include people with criminal antecedents in their cabinet.”
“Indian Constitution reposes immense trust in PM and CMs and they are expected to act with responsibility and with constitutional morality,” the highest court ruled. The Suprime Court made the point that those involved in offences of moral turpitude and corruption should not be ministers.”Corruption is an enemy of the nation. As a trustee of the Constitution, the PM is expected not to appoint unwarranted persons as ministers, no disqualification can be prescribed,” a Constitution bench of the country’s five senior most judges said.
“It is expected that the PM will not appoint persons against whom charges have been framed and he is facing trial. We leave it to the PM and Chief Ministers,” the judges ruled on a 10-year-old petition that sought the removal of charge-sheeted ministers from the UPA government at the time.
The petition was earlier dismissed in 2004 when the court said interfering would be “premature” as the issue of ministers with criminal cases was being debated in Parliament.The Centre had argued that removing ministers is against the Constitutional prerogative of Parliament and the will of the people, and that “once a person is an MP, he is entitled to be in the council of ministers, if the Prime Minister decides.”
The court today accepted the argument, but also said the “Constitution reposes immense trust in the PM and Chief Ministers and they are expected to act with responsibility and with constitutional morality.”Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet has 14 ministers with police cases against them.Uma Bharti, the minister for Water Resources, has 13 cases against her, including two charges related to murder and six charges of rioting.
Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari has four cases against him, including one charge related to criminal intimidation.Ministers Upendra Kushwaha and Raosaheb Dadarao Danve each face four cases. Another minister, Nihalchand Meghwal, was recently summoned by a Rajasthan court in a rape case.The Election Commission has repeatedly said candidates with a criminal past should be barred from contesting elections.
Last year, On July 10, 2013 the SC had ruled that an MP or MLA would be immediately disqualified if convicted by a court in a criminal offence with a jail sentence of two years or more. The Supreme Court had struck down Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which protects convicted legislators from disqualification if they appeal before a higher court within three months.